The Beautiful, Rowdy Prisoners

by Chee Malabar

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about

Chee Malabar is a Los Angeles based rapper and writer.

Born in Bombay and raised in Baroda, India, Chee Malabar immigrated to the United States at the age of twelve, landing in San Francisco first and then New York. Inspired by the parallels between his own life and rap music’s themes of bewilderment and alienation, Chee immediately gravitated to hip-hop as a tool for navigating through his newfound American life.

Chee Malabar’s musical resume includes six albums: three with Himalayan Project, followed by an LP and EP with Oblique Brown and two albums under his own moniker. Chee's previous efforts are an exploration of the immigrant experience, love, relationships, politics, and art.

His latest release, The Beautiful, Rowdy Prisoners, is a series of loosely connected songs and vignettes inspired by years of Chee’s work with incarcerated youth and their families. Chee Malabar’s work has found its way into college curriculums, discussion panels, and papers that address identity and hip-hop.

Most recently, Chee’s was one of the subjects in a monograph by Dr. Nitasha Sharma of Northwestern University that explores aspects of American identity.

In addition to music, Chee has contributed several essays and multimedia pieces to books and literary magazines. Recently, Chee completed his MFA in Fiction from Brooklyn College and is finishing his first novel.


Selected Discography:
The Middle Passage –– Himalayan Project (2001)
Wince at the Sun –– Himalayan Project (2003)
Oblique Brown — Oblique Brown (2006)
Broken World — Himalayan Project (2007)
Dust — Oblique Brown (2008)
Burning Tire Artisan — Chee Malabar (2011)
The Beautiful, Rowdy Prisoners –– Chee Malabar (2013)

credits

released 25 June 2013
produced, mixed, and mastered by Kooz.
Lyrics by Chee Malabar
Featuring Teju Cole and Anand Subramanian

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about

Chee Malabar Salta, Argentina

Chee Malabar is a Los Angeles based rapper & writer.

Born in Bombay and raised in Baroda, India, Chee Malabar immigrated to the United States at the age of twelve, landing in San Francisco first and then New York.

His latest release, The Beautiful, Rowdy Prisoners, is a series of loosely connected songs and vignettes inspired by years of Chee’s work with incarcerated youth and their families.
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Track Name: Starshine (Featuring Teju Cole)
Teju Cole
..but in the dark spaces between the dead, shining stars, were stars I could not see, stars that still existed, and were giving out light that hadn't reached me yet, stars no living and giving out light but present to me only as blank interstices. Their light would arrive on earth eventually, long after I and my whole generation and the generation after me slipped out of time, perhaps long after the human race itself was extinguished. To look into these dark spaces was to have a direct glimpse of the future.
Track Name: War City (Featuring Anand Subramanian)
We from a jaded city, we pity your hope/crack smoke is ubiquitous, the audacity of coke/got dreams from their fathers, they'd rather not share/rather nightmares, ‘cause father's ain't here/no way to fight fair, no way to get there/where, the grass is green, the girls are pretty/here, their whole world is informed by Diddy/Shitty ain't it that it comes from entertainment/on the wrong side of the track asking where the train went/brain dead, but the heart ticks like a metronome/Pass the stretch of row homes /any city any ghetto--plenty metal, hold on/ain't a single dainty petal/ get your swoll on/ saint or devil, all strains get rolled on/cold's gone, here comes another summer/the heat, the beef, the murderous fervor.

Chorus
Anand Subramanian
We can't hide in the summer sunshine
We can't fight the summertime

We can't hide in the summer sunlight
We can't fight


Verse
Chee Malabar:
Life's a bitch but you can't divorce the pain/choose your poison, use the nose or the vein/the light at tunnel's end's an approaching train/got smoke on the brain, stubbed stogs in their earlobes/nearly froze from the cold, fear when the winter comes/Been a bum in their eyes, wonder where to get dinner from/come, give the sinner some/or they'll take it, break it, can't mend this wretched life/ they done prayin', god can't get it right/so the sons of the slums sing a whole ‘nother gospel/half empty glass, but the Pyrex pot's filled/...last of Reagan's apostles/run the pot holed streets sprayin’ that Mossberg/lost world found, or did it find you?/the crime comin’ soon to a tree lined avenue/the world that you gave 'em coming near you.
Chorus
Anand Subramanian
We can't hide in the summer sunshine
We can't fight the summertime

We can't hide in the summer sunlight
We can't fight


Verse
Chee Malabar:
Dark nights, darker days, hard to gain a wage/mortgage futures today, cause tomorrow's hard to gauge/black market economics, everything is barter trade:/ sex, guns, drugs--have them all on parade/but everything is fair when you're livin' in the city/so them young bucks shrug when the judge gives ‘em fifty/mama's on an upstate bus to see him now/thankful that he's locked in the same spot where his father's housed.
Chorus
Anand Subramanian
We can't hide in the summer sunshine/
We can't fight the summertime/

We can't hide in the summer sunlight/
We can't fight
Track Name: You In Three Parts
Chee Malabar:
Social misfit, can't even party right/spend your nights getting’ drunk with some folks you hardly like/…but they kinder than you are/for putting up with the adolescent mess that you are/Was all party and bullshit/till you took it too far from your drunken pulpit/look, we hard workin' folk, why you tryin' to embarrass us?/you don't need a drink, you need a goddamn therapist/Manchild in the promised land…/on a landmine, cursin' how you got this hand/but it’s your fault of course, the blood trails to your doorstep/the bile tells the tale, you can't say you was force fed/…please save us the horseshit/you ain't special, just another mess we have to rescue/for our own sense of decency. We wish we hadn't met you/hope you find some answers in the bottle that we left you.

Chorus
Chee Malabar
‘Cause I’m tired of singin’ the same song/I’m tired of singin’ the same song
Yesterday’s gone, tomorrow never came, (it’s the same ol same ol)/
tell me how to move on/
Cause I’m tired of singin’ the same song, I’m tired of singin’ the same song

Verse
Chee Malabar:
How you still playin' a pimp when you a dead beat dad/still treatin' women like they're red meat shanks/...close to 30 plus/got the nerve to ask why your daughter hates your guts/all you do is suck weed and get bent/while your baby mama works to pay the rent/yeah, woe is you, you can't find a job/you got no diploma and your childhood was robbed/Is that it? Is that your final answer?/when will you be the man that you play and pull your damn pants up?/I miss my smilin' son in the picture on my mantel/in his shirt and tie, young, bright and so handsome/you know the one who promised mama a mansion/I don't want that, just take back what you ran from/your childhood is done, let your daughter have one/last piece of advice from a mother to her son.

Chorus
Chee Malabar
‘Cause I’m tired of singin’ the same song, I’m tired of singin’ the same song/
Yesterday’s gone, tomorrow never came/ (it’s the same ol same ol)/
tell me how to move on/
Cause I’m tired of singin’ the same song, I’m tired of singin’ the same song

Verse
Chee Malabar:
There you are…10 years old/sittin' on your mama's bed, lettin' all the tears go/ cause daddy's gone again, I ain't coming back home again/promised that I'd write you and try to keep phonin' in/known' I ain't coming back home again/If I could press fast forward/tell you that the world is yours and your dreams are your passport/let them take you where the day might/travel light little man and have a safe flight/pray to Providence you face like your mother does/and appreciate the things that was hard for her/God or godless, faith is what you make it/see obstacles as blocks or walls you ain't paint yet/carry the weight on your frail shoulder blades/only fools shadow box in the shade/don't be scared to face the man that you made.
Track Name: Gotta Live
Chorus:
Chee Malabar
You gotta live, you gotta strive, gotta keep, keep on
You gotta live you gotta strive, gotta keep, keep on
You gotta live you gotta strive, for another day

Verse
Chee Malabar:
25 years old, sittin' on a clear cold/day on his stoop with a blunt in his earlobe/peers stroll past and he wonders where'd the years go/dear old mama said praise God and be fearful/ …instead he slang rocks near school/first and fifteenth, homey gotta go see a fool/clear two, three thou a week, that's a mere pull/package is done, fiends flyin' like a leer do/…and he ain't tryin' to hear you/fear who? the FEDS? Their rules he don't adhere to/hustle hard on the streets, at home he's cheerful/…another day he persevered through/a year to the day his baby died and year two/nears full speed up ahead but his dear boo/lies near death on her bed as he tells her so tearful/…yeah we'll persevere through.

Chorus:
Chee Malabar
You gotta live, you gotta strive, gotta keep, keep on
You gotta live you gotta strive, gotta keep, keep on
You gotta live you gotta strive, for another day
Track Name: Sugar Cubes
Verse
Chee Malabar:

Found your way in the world, young world/you from the slum where no crumbs go unserved/not a pebble or a rock goes unturned/just one word you heard, that's 'RUN'/guns, drugs, sex, anything that sells/vices don't need help, "the shit sells itself”/thats what them older dudes said/said, "hold these sugar cubes," and fronted you some bread/like, "go get you some head, get clean, get new jeans and a new pair of kicks/Shit little man you gotta keep up appearances”/and you ain't really know what you did to merit this/ since your pops died, his name is your only inheritance/every last one of your mom's marriages split/Latch key kid, no one knows where your parents is/the Clarences, Terrance and Aaron is kin/took you in and they fed you, saved you embarrassment/you can't say no to runnin' little drug errands, shit/the rabbit got the gun, fuck the carrot sticks and fuck school/these streets is Hard Knocks accredited/”May I please?" nah--"Take and take” is the etiquette/"Lets get it little Eric, bake this cake and share it"/and as the years tick, you start to live that rhetoric/embody that swag, steez snug as a fitted glove/ and when the judge asks, say you "Did it for Love." Verse

Chee Malabar:
Found your way in the world young lad/the product of a rapist dad/you was raised in that rapists pad/cause your mom swallowed shots from that mag/Suicidal, feelin' there's a crime grown' inside her/she grew up in the church and her Bible can't decipher/…between sinner and victim/beside her mama thought your mama hot for them big men/she ain't listen she ain't ask/if she did she'd know your mom's stepfather is your dad/and you came into the world with all that in your past/ by the time that you six, she turnin' tricks for a livin'/gettin' broken off, smoking' rocks, in and out of prison/bouts with religion, god damn she can't forgive HIM/and that rapist too, plus your face is dude's/everytime you try and kiss her, she fakes the flu.
Track Name: Later by the Bar
Chee Malabar:
Larger than life though he started out in strife/knives in his parka, markin' marks for his stripes/swigs lager by the pints, bar fights with pipes/markets vice, sharp, gets twice the market price/could've bartered white for cars, large shards ice/instead took his cash, ran it to a crooked Narc's ride/parked beside, this dive bar, where his father died/rather slayed, so he paid to avoid that darker plight/These Narcs are like marksmen, sharper than a barbers blade/hands on that hammers gauge, they ain't no carbonate/straight shots, no pop, forty cop cavalcades/when slugs travel straight out of barrels you can't battle fate/he knows this, since his own gun jammed like marmalade/and that's when the tarp is laid, that’s when the harp is played/ it’s a dark game and the cops is light as day/ and the sarge cites Christ and a Bob Barker phrase/"If the price is right you can get got,” your heart's appraised/Child of a lesser god, grabbed his spark and says/ "Death to you all, tryna rob my father's grave"/"Rather brave ain't cha?" the narc carved his face/carved a crescent in his cheeks, but our boy's hard to phase/scarred and dazed, crazed with that Goldschlager in his veins/aimed his flame saying, "man, this is how you garner praise"/the narcs face shrunk, he shot back a martyred gaze.
Track Name: Too Many Lies
Chee Malabar:
…As if you needed further proof/but you're sure that she'll serve that too/with her biting sarcasm and when you started spazzin'/she laughed, known' fully well that your heart hadn't /fully healed from your previous squabble/and you weren't drunk enough to see the genie in that bottle/so you checked into a hostel with the clothes on your back/came home to gather your shit, she'd rummaged and trashed/ Broken frames, ripped up notepads/note sayin' “Gone hoeing, never coming back”/But there she is; mascara tears black/crouched in a corner, head full of sorrow/with trite words and clichés, careless and hollow/but today's that tomorrow that she promised yesterday/when the break up sex is done, she'll beg you to stay/Smoke a stog, walk away, one foot into the hallway you'll say...

Verse
Chee Malabar:
…So she needed that distance/to be brave enough to know she couldn't fix it/all y'all did was fight and fuck, neither one listened/…on your couch piss drunk/ tryna validate your rage by listenin' to Mel Gibson/between your vices and her need for affection/could do bad by herself she don't need your assistance/you both deserve a different sort of suitor/cause all you do together, is disappoint your futures/Y'all ain't in love, y'all just co dependent/only time you talk is through notes at the entrance/saying, 'I'm sorry…PS I borrowed a few bucks/and went to the local dive’/She went out with an older guy/ cause he treats her kind and lets her have her say/while you're still swimmin' in drink, sinking in the mess you made/so she tells her friend, there's nothing left to say, except to say...
Track Name: Carry Me Home
Chee Malabar:
She stumbles through the streets tryin' to hear its secrets/while wild winds howl and rustle the leaves left/on twigs like winter's bone…/a yellow moon blooms callin' all sinners home/ to a tomb to atone with a spoon and some stones/sold everything she owns to get high tryna soothe the ills/pills, crills, meth you know the drill/Her bruises slow to heal, wounds is sewn and sealed/and life's on a loop like a noose for real/her inner child sizes up a crackhead's shoes to fill/who'd choose this deal, livin' in the backseat of a black Coupe deVille/smack dab in hell till heaven's truth's revealed/by some fire can crooners singin’ tunes in the brutal chill/…truth buried in her bones/ swing low, sweet chariot, carry her home.


Chee Malabar:
He mumbles through verses tryna find their secrets/first found HIM through a windblown leaflet/that hit his face as he left the 4 train/took is as fate as he went to face his court case/promised HIM his life's work if he'd have more days/got what he wished, turned to scripture and more praise/ordained by pain, saved by his Lord's grace/changed his ways, walked through this doorway/illuminating all, found God in a whore's face/except his wife says he's more crazed/then he ever was on drugs, but she loves him/ yet she left him where he stood, with his book and his wood crucifix/he said, "I love you, but I knew it would come this/God has plan even if you run from it"/Couldn't shake his faith in Christ or the holy ghost/till they found his wife in a coupe, dead from an overdose.
Track Name: Man Without a Country
Chee Malabar:
Feel restless, should you change addresses/change directions, a much needed respite/from beating yourself up with those deeds you detested/in that stretch in that desert/ back now from that scrapyard, brain full of hazmat/awoke with the shivers, shaken by a flashback/brand new you starin' in the mirrors glare/soak your face, pluck all your silver hairs/still seein' slivers of light/on a dark noon, harpoon whoever spit this plight/ in the belly of this crucible/on your grind, see the grime on your cuticles/still struggle with the issues told your friends you conquered/ Vicodin, scotch, and the death that you long for/sayin' this land that’s in front of me/ is all that I have, I'm just a man without a country.

Chorus
Chee Malabar Where’d the years go? where the prophets, where the seers, where the tears go?/
On this lonely road, this lonely road, this lonely, lonely, lonely dusty road.

Verse
Chee Malabar:

There you go leaving home again/ say bye to your mom-your homey-only friend/mom safe drive safe and keep phonin' in/known' you ain't comin’ back home again/damn, on the road thinking 'bout her tearful/her house gettin' smaller in the rear view/went a long way just to get lost again/tossed your cross and burned your good book/how to explain the pain and the lives that your faith took/don't know what you here for/ god's wasting her breath giving deaf man an earful/adhere to your needs, embrace your dysfunctions/face your fears, tread hard on your punctures/just the life you were given/ so you wince at the sun and tilt your life's prism/Man without a country: unforgiven.

Chorus
Chee Malabar
Where’d the years go? where the prophets, where the seers, where the tears go?/
On this lonely road, this lonely road, this lonely, lonely, lonely dusty road.


Verse
Chee Malabar:
On an open road with blow in your nose/fear and loathin’, cloaked by the coke/ open skies watched by doped up eyes/saggin' heavy, pushin' a scratched up black Chevy/two days away from a church in Santa Fe/the last verse from Coltrane's “Pursuance” plays/The path to redemption is littered with syringes/letters, fringe friends, bitter as a sentence/on an outpost that read, "There is no god, no repentance/ no divine laws, just men who pen amendments/Penance is for the weak, the meek inherit hurt/the strong willed work, grin and bear it then smirk"/And some say, "damn, you lost your will to live”/how can one kill something that never lived/Killed for God and Country, you severed kids/crossed rivers, tossed grenades and burned down a bridge/A village raised him; one order blazed them/makes you want to dig up earth and find where the graves end/and sleep beside ‘em, instead of this pavement/carved beside the brick and mortar unsafe dens/ rest haven for vices, best trained for crisis/can't numb the pain with rum mixed in with Nyquil/you feel a slight chill, see the sights of the church steeple in the nights shrill/gettin' closer to god.
Track Name: Tell Me That You Care (Featuring Anand Subramanian)
Chee Malabar:
Now I find myself in this grimy cell/thinking 'bout my girl and the child I left/on the outs, nights spent fightin' self doubt/decisions I made hanging with the night owls/slight child, never knew love was forced to fight foul/till the foulness spread and tore my whole life down/sights and sounds that my memory plays/just a haze from them angel dust and Benadryl days/now its ten Amens a day, praying the self hate way/hard to face myself when I read what her letter says/ Son's doin' bad, won't acknowledge his dad/save him from the streets, God . Don't let him follow dad/I don't want much, just some hope now and again/lost everyone I loved, but in you I've found a friend/ shared my sins and my joys, and you made me self aware/ I don't want much, just tell me that you care.

Chorus
Anand Subramanian:
Drifting in the space above/
Listless on a sea of numb/
I force myself to dive/
Hoping I'll somehow feel alive/
And each time you're there to pull me up/

Verse
Chee Malabar:
Sometimes I cut myself to see if I still feel/Emotional wreck, my intellect is a shield/ mom is a junkie, pops--never knew him/brother was a truant, death stopped what he was doin'/grandmama raised me, said be a good student/I took to them books, got into a magnet school/class President, magna cum laude too/only downside to access, I couldn't match their cool/smart black girl, no one's attracted to/graduated deans list, college scholarship set/came home once, for grandmama's death/ took my scholarship money, buried her myself/I kept kept one, grad school was next/ got married, got a job, held back a thousand tears/till a voice on the street asked for change to spare/"It's your mama baby girl, just tell me that you care"

Chorus
Anand Subramanian
Lifted in the space above/
Misled that I could do enough/
Force myself to dive/
Knowing I don't belong this high/
And each time I fall I can feel your touch/
Each time I fall I can feel your touch/
Track Name: Wild Geese (Featuring Anand Subramanian and Teju Cole)
Verse
Chee Malabar:
There's no one left to love and only five leaves left/few more seasons will cycle he reasons will the seeds survive his last breath?/These orange trees, avocados and pomegranates he planted in memory/of his childhood/all else he forgot--can't trace the shape his life took/but summers in wildwood and winters chosen' wild geese/ plays on his mind’s screen, until he hears a child scream/tears stream down his face thats shaped like an old world map/with broken capillaries and veins that run like trade routes/that shipped slaves and turned the earth flat/ slats of light filter through venetian blinds/sign for his morning stroll, the sun his only sense of time/passes grime coated frames holding photos with no names/ on yellowed walls like a static sunset/with bucket hat and cane he walks the orange tree lined streets/and calls for his last loves left, Wild Geese.

Chorus
Anand Subramanian
I swore I heard you through the night/
Familiar demons infiltrate my mind/
Await arrival of your flight/
The same old patterns float inside this blinding light

Verse
Chee Malabar:
There's so much love to give, yet no one left to love/few days until Christmas she wishes for her kin to visit before her death/sons and daughters busy growin' clans from the same seeds that’s planted in her vein imprinted hands/hands that slapped them senseless/ made meals and made do when their daddy left home in a Caddy with his mistress/thick skinned through chill winds, she kept the coop together/ drinking through winter nights, hiding fright/while daddy flying south flocking with exotic birds with different feathers/a few letters came, she sent him pictures of their kids/same ones that blamed her drinking for breaking up the crib/barely time to nurture so they harbored some resentment/she never played the martyr, just labored to keep them nested/less said the better now this season of her life/when all the rhymes and reasons only cast a meager light/and she might miss the wild geese come home in eager flight.

Chorus
Anand Subramanian:
I swore I heard you through the night/
Familiar demons infiltrate my mind/
Await arrival of your flight/
The same old patterns float inside this blinding light

Teju Cole:
Often, as I searched the sky, all I saw was rain, or the faint contrail of an airplane bisecting the window, and I doubted in some part of myself whether these birds, with their dark wings and throats, their pale bodies and tireless little hearts, really did exist. So amazed was I by them that I couldn’t trust my memory when they weren’t there.